Estate planning is the development of a plan for a person’s personal and financial affairs. It is a plan for the future that will manage and distribute your assets at your death, as well as, during your lifetime if you are incapacitated. You should consider an Estate Plan as a benefit not only for yourself, but also for your family and loved ones. Estate Planning provides guidance and tools for important decisions during difficult and emotional times.
Estate planning does not need to be difficult or complicated if you have an estate planning attorney assisting you. The process can involve a single client, a married couple, an entire family unit, or two persons living together who are not legally married to each other. Moreover, Estate Planning is necessary for people of all income levels. In many situations, the more limited assets you have, the more planning you should do.
Helping clients plan for the future is an important part of Bill Ager’s law practice. His goal is to provide clients with customized and understandable Estate Planning for reasonable flat fees.
Bill is an experienced Ann Arbor Estate Planning Attorney whose practice includes all of Washtenaw County. He has received a Certification for Probate and Estate Planning from the State Bar of Michigan and the Institute for Continuing Legal Education. He is also a member of the Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan.
The Ager Law Office Estate Planning process begins with establishing a foundation from a personal level by learning about a client, their family, the family assets and the overall objectives for the estate. Applying his knowledge and experience, Bill Ager develops personalized plans for each client to ensure their wishes are clear and straightforward.
Once the foundation of your estate plan is laid out, it is important to take the following estate planning documents into consideration as you move forward through the process. The most common tools to create an estate plan include wills, trusts, durable power of attorneys, patient advocates, enhanced life estate deeds, and beneficiary designations.
An estate plan should always include a Will, which is historically known as a “Last Will and Testament”. A Will is a legal document that states how and to whom your assets will be distributed, who will handle your final affairs and, if you have minor children, who will care for them after your death.
To protect your property and your children under the age of 18, you should consider creating a Will. If you don’t have a Will when you die, important decisions surrounding your final wishes will be made for you according to state law, which could be a time consuming and expensive process, particularly if there are family disagreements. Learn more about Wills in Michigan Estate Planning >
Trusts are often created to control the distribution of assets, protect assets for minors or persons who are unable to manage assets themselves, and to reduce or eliminate taxes and future attorney fees. A significant advantage of a trust is that it’s flexible, avoids probate and the information in the trust is not open to the public. Learn more about the different types of Trusts and how each serves your estate plan differently >
Although a Will and Revocable Living Trust are traditionally considered the primary estate planning tools, another very important tool is a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a very important document to have in your estate plan because death is not the only reality for many people. It is not uncommon to become incapacitated due to stroke, dementia, other impairments, or in the unfortunate circumstance of a devastating accident.
This estate planning document will help avoid the time consuming and lengthy process of going to probate court for a judge to appoint a guardian or conservator. Learn more about designating a Durable Power of Attorney in Michigan >
Michigan law also provides for a Patient Advocate Designation, sometimes called a “health care power of attorney”. The Patient Advocate Designation is a document in which a person, in advance of becoming a patient, appoints someone (it can be more than one person) to act as their patient advocate and make health care decisions should he or she become incapacitated. The patient advocate’s authority, including instructions about the nature and extent of medical care a person desires, is specified in the document. Learn more about Patient Advocate Designation in Michigan >
The Enhanced Life Estate deed, known as a “Lady Bird Deed” has become a popular estate planning tool for the non-probate transfer of real property, such as a family home or vacation property. It has many benefits including allowing owners of property to retain ownership and control over the property during their lifetime, including the power to sell the property, while designating a beneficiary to whom the property is conveyed at time of death. This transfer is automatic and avoids costly and time-consuming probate. Learn more about Lady Bird Deeds in Michigan >
Another estate planning tool that has become popular recently is using a beneficiary designation on bank and financial accounts, much like designating beneficiaries on your retirement plans and life insurance policies. These accounts, which avoid probate, are sometimes called Pass on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) accounts.
Most all banks and financial institutions allow you to designate beneficiaries on your accounts so that during the time you keep the accounts open, you retain total control over the accounts however at the time of death, any remaining funds in the account are then transferred to designated beneficiaries on the account. Usually, all that is required for a beneficiary to collect the funds is to provide the bank or financial institution with proper identification and a copy of the account holder’s death certificate.
All the tools of estate planning have important requirements in order to be considered valid during and after your death. Talking to Bill Ager, an experienced estate planning attorney, will help to ensure that your wishes are carried out in an estate plan. Contact Bill Ager to discuss developing a well-crafted and personalized estate plan for a reasonable flat fee.
Contact Bill Ager directly at (734) 649-0784, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our online contact form.